Most Floridians who are contemplating divorce are more concerned about enduring a long and bitter struggle than they are about the actual outcome. One way of reducing the rancor between the spouses and ensuring a better result for both (and any children that may be involved) is engaging in divorce mediation.
The purpose and nature of mediation are often misunderstood. Mediation is essentially a voluntary process that is guided by a neutral third party. The neutral third party is the mediator, and most mediators have received special training in how to conduct mediation sessions. A mediator is not – repeat, not – a decision maker. The only decisions that come out of a mediation are mutual decisions by the two divorcing spouses. The mediator uses his or her training to help the couple resolve what may seem to be intractable disputes. For example, the mediator might suggest a flexible visitation schedule to help resolve custody issues, or the mediator may be able to help the couple set values on their assets to expedite property division.
Unless ordered to participate by the court, no one is obligated to enter into mediation, but most people who have used mediation to resolve the issues in their divorce seem to appreciate the efficiency and lack animosity that mediation offers. The parties are usually obligated to pay the mediator a fee based on the time he or she spent on the mediation. If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will draft a written document that embodies the agreement. Each party can review the agreement and suggest changes or corrections. If a party is represented by an attorney, the attorney usually reviews the agreement to ensure that it properly represents the agreements reached in the mediation. Attorneys are allowed to attend mediation sessions, but whether they do or not depends upon the wishes of the client.
Mediation can be extremely helpful in resolving the issues that arise in a divorce. Anyone with questions about mediation may wish to consult an experienced family lawyer for advice on the mediation process and how it may affect the course of the divorce.